Video: What Kerry 'bounce'?

updated 8/3/2004 9:04:51 PM ET 2004-08-04T01:04:51

John Kerry was touting his plan to rein in wasteful government spending and balance the federal budget as his string of campaign buses wound into the Midwest on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, President Bush raised $1.6 million for the Republican Party on Tuesday and praised the work of faith-based organizations that help the needy, telling Roman Catholic voters that his administration backs compassionate conservatism with strong financial support.

At a town hall meeting in Beloit, Wis., Kerry said Tuesday he would roll back tax benefits for corporations and the wealthy to channel more money into education, job training and middle-class tax cuts.

“We have to get back to being fiscally responsible,” Kerry told supporters a hockey arena as he stopped along the border of Wisconsin during a two-week tour of battleground states.

Kerry said he would reverse President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest families and scour the tax code to eliminate as much as $65 billion that goes to corporations “for no really good reason at all.” The money saved would be funneled into primary and secondary education, special education and job training, he said.

Kerry also promised to cut the federal deficit in half during four years. To do that, he said, he wants the power to veto individual spending decisions made by Congress and to enforce budget caps with automatic spending cuts.

Bush has promised to slice the federal deficit in half in five years.

The White House last week said it expected this year’s federal deficit to reach $445 billion. That’s less than the White House budget office previously estimated, but it would still be a record in dollar terms.

The Treasury Department said Monday that Congress needs to let the government borrow more than the $7.4 trillion it can borrow now. It expects to run into that ceiling this fall, about the same time the presidential contest hits full stride.

Bus, ferry, train
Kerry's tour left Boston on a bus, crossed Lake Michigan on a high-speed ferry, and planned to take a train west from St. Louis later this week after Kerry reunites with his running mate, John Edwards, who has been campaigning in Southern states.

“He’s coming up the Mississippi, and I’m going down the Mississippi,” Kerry said. “We are going to get on a train, the train that Harry Truman rode the first time any presidential candidate’s gone from ocean to ocean, from sea to shining sea.”

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On his own campaign swing in Dallas, the president told the Knights of Columbus that “we must address despair,” as the White House announced $188 million in federal grants for faith-based and community groups helping the homeless, the unemployed, substance abusers and the children of parents who are in prison.

The president has promoted a bigger role for faith-based groups in government-funded social service programs.

“I believe government needs to stand on the side of faith-based groups, not against faith-based groups,” the president said to applause from thousands at a convention of the group.

Bush split the Catholic vote with Democrat Al Gore in the 2000 election and has steadily courted Catholic voters ever since, mindful that they represent about a quarter of the electorate. The president met with Pope John Paul II for the third time two months ago, a fact he reminded the Knights of Columbus. Bush’s rival John Kerry is Catholic; the president is Methodist.

The president’s first stop in the Dallas area was at a fund-raiser hosted by software company founder Larry Lacerte. Journalists were barred from the event.

The Republican National Committee has raised at least $217 million this election cycle and started July with $78 million on hand. The Democratic National Committee has collected about $125 million and began July with roughly $63 million on hand.

Three days of campaigning
Bush’s visit to his home state was the start of three days of campaigning in the nation’s midsection.

Earlier in the day at the White House, Bush signed a U.S.-Australian trade treaty that the president said will create jobs and opportunities for both nations and fuel economic growth throughout the Pacific Rim.

Bush spends Tuesday night at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, where he spent time during last week’s Democratic National Convention.

On Wednesday, he makes his 13th trip to Iowa, where he lost to Gore by fewer than 5,000 votes. He’ll headline a rally before leaving for Minnesota, where he promotes the Conservation Reserve Program as an example of his commitment to the environment, aides said. The program pays farmers to take environmentally sensitive farmland out of production. It’s his 10th trip to Minnesota.

After a brief night at the White House, Bush flies out Thursday to Ohio and Michigan, two critical states in this year’s election.

In Columbus, Ohio, he takes questions from supporters at an “Ask President Bush” appearance. In Saginaw, Mich., he has his third rally of the week.

It will be his fifth trip to Michigan in the last month, a pace that outstrips even his frequent trips to Pennsylvania, which he has visited 31 times since he became president.

Bush campaigns Friday in New Hampshire, the only Northeastern state he won in 2000, before spending the weekend at his family’s compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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